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Na No Wri Mo

October 25th, 2012

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Do you have an inner novelist just bursting to get out?

Or do you live with a hidden novelist?

November has become the National Novel Writing Month, and now is the time to let that little novelist out of hiding.

Here’s the original site for Na No Wri Mo (geared toward adults)

And, they have the event targeted toward kids in elementary school to high school as well.

This would fit in well with your homeschool curriculum and is perfect for this time of year before life gets nuts with the holidays, but fall sports have wrapped up and you need something to look forward to working on indoors with a hot cup of tea and fuzzy slippers.

The kids’ site has tons of resources and downloadable ebooks that will walk your kids through the process of writing their own novel in 30 days.

There’s information for educators, lesson plans, badges, forums, and tons of other cool stuff to get you motivated and help writers not throw in the towel half way through.

I have heard from many that gave it a try and couldn’t believe how many thousands of words their kids could write in a month when they just let the words fly and didn’t worry about anything but getting the story out. This year, we are going to give it a shot, at least some of us. Maybe even me. We’ll see.

Any Na No Wri Mo veterans out there? Anyone with a novel burning to get out?

Less than a week until the event begins, so now is the time to start thinking about where you are headed, dreaming up characters, and sketching some possible plots. Or, just wait until November 1 and just open your computer and see where your fingers lead you. Either way sign up so you can tally your wordcount and even if you don’t write a great novel, you can finish and say you did it.

Check out all their details and get ready to write.

Na No Wri Mo Young Writers Program: http://ywp.nanowrimo.org/

Review — Learn Our History

September 18th, 2012

Political correctness has sadly altered the history that many children learn today.

Mike Huckabee has helped to start a company with resources to combat this sometimes inaccurate view of the past and to help build pride in our country and our heritage. These videos can easily help your student gain an understanding of historical events while taking pride in our national heritage.

This particular video looks at the challenges the world faced leading up to World War II. Both in Europe and Japan, Learn Our History shows the attacks on freedom and the need for America to take a stand.

Product: Origins of World War II by Learn Our History

Details: A DVD that uses five cartoon teenagers to travel through time to get a behind the scenes look at the events and personalities instrumental in the origins and duration of World War II.

Price: $19.95 plus s/h or take advantage of their free gift offer and get it for $9.95 plus s/h. This second option also signs you up to receive a new video each month for $11.95 plus s/h until you cancel your order. You can also choose video streaming and not pay shipping. Scroll down their preview page for all the pricing details.

A significant event that took place less than a hundred years ago can still seem like ancient history to young students. This video series helps it come alive and is a great supplement to any study of this time period. You might want to try to find a veteran from WWII that could help the kids see even more clearly how close this is to them and to take pride in our history and our country today.

WWII veterans are getting more scarce as the years go by, but this video is readily available. My kids enjoyed watching this round the world look at some of the events of WWII. We have not studied modern history extensively, so much of this was new material to them. It gave them a great overview of the causes, people, and events without bogging them down in details or in too many of the gruesome facts. Even my 2 year old asked to watch the “airplane” movie again.

It is a short film, but packed with information. The cartoon characters were a little predictable, but they got the job done, and taught the lessons well. We felt this was definitely worth the time and we enjoy having it around as a resource and supplement to our history program.

Disclosure: I received this product free from Learn Our History for the purpose of posting a review. This review contains my honest opinions and experiences.

Online science class

September 7th, 2012

This was forwarded to me, and so I’m passing it along as some of you might be interested:

Creation Kids: Online Classes

Dear Friends,

This is an invitation to join us for our upcoming Online Creation Kids Class. No special equipment, no place to drive. We come to you. You can check “science lab” off your list, because we do the work for you.

CSI has partner with author, home school mom and owner of Media Angels Inc, Felice Gerwitz. This partnership was formed with the purpose of introducing a series of online educational classes for kids.

Tom DeRosa along with host, Felice Gerwitz will cover the topics from CSI’s Elementary Science Curriculum, Investigate the Possibilities.” Exciting fun for middle school children or your upper elementary students.

Forces and Motion and Matter are the topics of this first series of classes. Join us for:

*Experiments
*Explanation
*Discussion and Questions: Ask Mr. DeRosa your questions

Date: Monday September 24th
October 1, 8, 15, 22, 29

Time: 3:00PM 4:00PM Eastern

Six classes
Cost:
Only $5 per class
Payment options: Weekly $5 for Six Classes Or Get one class Free: $24.95

SIGN UP TODAY!

We are so sure you’ll enjoy this class we’ve recorded a preview just for you. Our gift.

Visit http://mediaangels.com/creationkids/�to redeem your video, no strings attached. Creation Kids Class videos is found on the Class Previews page. If you have any questions? Please contact Felice at felice@mediaangels.com

ICHE summary

June 14th, 2012

Homeschool conventions have an amazing way of exhausting and exciting me at the same time.

Wanted to share some of the great resources and speakers I enjoyed this past weekend.

Not to overwhelm, we’ll tackle excerpts from two of them today.

First, the College Board rep gave a little lunch time talk on CLEP tests.

She offered lots of helpful info on CLEP exams that made them seem a little more within reach.

CLEP:

- offers huge savings over paying for college, even community college, tuition

- Recommended the book College without Compromise and the CLEP official test book that comes out each year and is available for Amazon.

- No penalty for wrong answers.

- No age restrictions (her kids have taken them as early as 7th grade — earning college credit in middle school!)

- Immediate results. Because it is computer based and you can take it at a variety of times throughout the year, you get an immediate result and know if you pass or not before heading home.

- accepted at 2900 colleges. However, as I was looking at some local ones, the extent they accept them does vary a bit. Some will only accept some of them as elective credits. Others require a higher score than the minimum. So, if you are CLEPping specifically to save on college tuition, do your homework ahead of time with potential colleges.

She gave great tips on actually taking the test including using the practice tests after you have completed high school course work in the subject area. She recommended when practicing to make sure to get two tests in a row with scores in the high 50’s before you attempt the actual test. And, celebrate pass or fail, your kids deserve a reward for all the hard work.

She has a website of her own as well, Credits before College

The official CLEP website has lots of info, or course.

***************************************************

Another speaker, Janice Campbell offered some great insight into grading pieces of writing.

Her website has a number of great resources that you might find helpful, especially in teaching junior and senior high students. She had tips for teaching writing as well as some general teaching tips.

Check out all her info and resources at Everyday Education.

Here are a few of the points that I appreciated from what she had to say:

- In order to evaluate and encourage better writing in your student you need a rubric (which you can find at her site when you give your email), a handbook (to reference specific rules that the student needs to work on), a thesaurus, and a dictionary

- When grading the rough draft you first grade only content. Don’t get bogged down in specific words and mechanics. The rough draft first needs to be adjusted to get the information in an orderly format that completes the assigned writing task. Later revisions will get into the details of style.

- The goal is to teach the student to edit and evaluate themselves (a rubric helps significantly with this because it makes grading so much more concrete).

She shared many more specifics about evaluating writing, but those were the big ones that stuck with me and will have a great impact on how I read and evaluate my kids’ writing.

Did you go to ICHE? Have a favorite workshop?

Homeschool Book Award

April 14th, 2012

Received by email:

Welcome to the second year of the National Homeschool Book Award!
We are very excited to announce the 2012 nominees following a very
successful inaugural year!

www.nationalhomeschoolbookaward.com

It is free to participate, we announce the nominees November 2011, you
read the four nominated books and the voting will take place October
2012.

Beginning in January 2012, we will dedicate a month to each of the
four titles. Posting activities, snacks, links, and games that you can
use with your own kids or a book club. Sign up at the link below.

http://www.nationalhomeschoolbookaward.com/getinvolved.aspx

2012 Nominees are;

My Name is Mina by David Almond, Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick, The
Candymakers by Wendy Mass, and Selling Hope by Kristin O’Donnell
Tubb.

Looking forward to a great year of reading & fun!

Blair Loder
National Homeschool Book Award

More info by email: contact@nationalhomeschoolbookaward.com

Homeschool literature club

April 3rd, 2012

Received this via email:

HomeschoolLiterature.com is thrilled to announce the arrival of the first ever book club featuring fictional children’s books with homeschooled characters! This book club is designed BY homeschoolers FOR homeschoolers, and is perfect for co-ops, support groups, and family studies.

Each book in the HomeschoolLiterature.com Book Club is studied using a mixture of worksheets, hands-on activities, and online games. Activities are available for both older and younger student groups. All books included in the Book Club can be easily obtained either at your local library, local book stores, or via online retailers such as Amazon.com.

Best of all, participation in the HomeschoolLiterature.com Book Club is ABSOLUTELY FREE!! Simply come by HomeschoolLiterature.com to register, and you can access all of the Book Club materials immediately! While you are there, check out our large and growing list of book reviews for homeschoolers.

TOS Crew Review — Mad Dog Math

May 18th, 2011

With school age kids ranging from Kindergarten to eighth grade, my younger kids seem to have a greater drive to learn early because they want to do what everyone else is doing. Recently my younger two took an interest in learning about multiplication. Not typically part of the scope and sequence for Kindergarten and first grade, we decided to give it a try anyway.

At the same time we received Mad Dog Math to review and this was a great opportunity for them to learn their basic math facts on their own. We did a quick little lesson on what multiplication means and how to figure out the answer and then sent them off. They started with reviewing some of their addition and subtraction, and then could switch to level 3 and work on some of their new found understanding of “times.” Now they feel like big kids. :)

See a little more of what this program is all about in this video they put together (this is a little long — just under 10  minutes):

Product: Mad Dog Math

Details: A downloadable program that helps kids in K-5 practice their basic facts in a systematic, easy to use format. They get a set of problems to answer in a period of time and gradually progress to more difficult problems.

Price: $19.95 for a one year license, $29.99 for 2 years, $39.99 for perpetual license

What we loved . . .

  • Basic presentation. Not a flashy, “read a 100 page manual” program. Download, read a paragraph of instructions, and start drilling. My kindergartener was on it within two minutes of getting it on and he flew through the first through levels as he got used to the program.
  • Covers all the basic operations. This one program will cover addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division in one computer based program so you won’t have to keep flash cards around that mostly got used by your toddler to decorate the school room floor anyway.
  • Different levels to start at. Each child can start at their appropriate level. Level one starts at the very basic, “0 + 3.” It then very gradually progresses through each of the groupings first through addition and then subtraction. Once they can add everything up to 18 they will complete that level and earn their sticker. They can redo them to improve their times trying to complete the facts in less than 30 seconds with only a couple errors.
  • Good length. The speed drills vary in length and are appropriate for the levels they are at. As they progress they get a bit longer, but they are all able to be completed in 2 minutes by most kids. I could finish most in 15 seconds, so that allows a good bit of time for kids to find the correct number on the keyboard an move on.
  • Varied presentation. Most of the problems ask for a solution (the sum, difference, product, or quotient), but some leave out one of the other numbers that kids need to figure out instead. I like that they vary this to help kids stretch their thinking, solidify their skills, and keep it fresh.
  • Can be untimed. Some kids really struggle with the anxiety of a timed test. Mad Dog offers timings of 2 minutes, 1 minute, or 30 seconds. They also give you the choice of not being timed. This can be a great help to some kids struggling with success in this area.

Some considerations . . .

  • Simple program. While this is a plus for ease of use, it also means that it does not have some extra features that I like to look for in a program. It doesn’t track specifics of how your child is doing. It lets them continue when they have made mistakes (I like to be able to set the mastery level and change it as I see necessary). It does what it is meant to do, but not with
  • Kids need to advance themselves to the next level. Once a child has mastered one level it tells them what they need to do next, but they need to change the selection in order to move to that next step in the program. It will let you stay at the level you were working on, but you don’t earn anything new until you select the next level.
  • Watch the bark. When I first started the program up I must have had my speakers on too loud. The program does not have any talking or background music, but it does have a loud bark now and then when you click on something or move to a new section. It about knocked me out of my seat. So, keep your speakers at a reasonable level when you are trying it out. ;)
  • Unique groupings. It seems most math programs I use learn all the “+ 1″ at once. Mad Dog instead does everything that adds up to 0-3 first. So it is working with a smaller sample set each time. This worked well for the gradual progress, but it was different than what we were used to.
  • Rewards are a long time coming. While kids can earn rewards, they take a while to get there, especially at the lowest level. At level one I felt like I had been on it a while and the “encouragement” that showed up on the bottom after one quiz said something like, “Great job, just 35 to go to earn your sticker!” Wow, that was not encouraging.
  • Explanation focuses on vocabulary. In the instructions there is a little button to click for the program to explain the math terms. I expected it to tell you what “addition” means, but instead it tells you the technical terms for each number in an addition problem (and for the other operations as well). This is interesting, but not really helpful if a student didn’t know what “multiply” even means.

Mad Dog math is basically a computer based flashcard program. It is easy to use and most kids would much rather drill their math facts on the computer as opposed to with real cards. It obviously costs a lot more than a deck of flashcards, but if it will get kids to learn their basic facts without an argument, that is money well spent. And, you don’t have to worry about your kids not learning “7 + 8″ because you lost that card and never realized it.

For more TOS Crew reviews on this product, check out the TOS Crew blog.

Disclaimer: This product was provided to me free of charge through Mad Dog Math as part of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. I received no additional compensation and the opinions expressed here come from my personal experiences and sincere thoughts.



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Forum for local homeschooling moms to connect

May 17th, 2011

God this message from a reader about an opportunity especially for area homeschoolers to connect online:

This discussion group is open to any and all home educators in the greater Naperville, IL area.

Non-locals also welcome and you will enjoy our extensive links section. Feel free to post questions concerning home education, list field trips, let others know of activities you’ve found in the area,  promote your home education support group, tell us about great resources and events etc.

This cyber forum is not affiliated with any particular support group, nor any specific religious group, nor any one homeschooling philosophy. Polite home educating parents of all stripes are welcome. Disrespectful hotheads and spammers will be immediately and unceremoniously tossed out by the moderator.

Find out more about this group . . .

Naperville Home Educators

Website: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NapervilleHomeEducators/

TOS Crew Review — Go Trybe

May 11th, 2011

I have my favorites for math, English, history, and science. But, when it comes to PE, every year is different. We like to try different things, but most importantly we like to be active and continue to improve our health each day. I want my kids to be healthy and have fun in the process. GoTrybe has a similar goal and we enjoyed using their tools this past month.

Product: Go Trybe online membership

Details: An online fitness membership for kids to use on their own or with their class to encourage them to get active and take a more hands-on interest in their own physical fitness.

Price: $19.95 for an annual membership (regularly $39.95)

What we loved . . .

  • Quick to figure out. Login is easy, they even have a free trial to check it out before you buy. As soon as you are in you can click around, create your avatar, plan a workout, or listen to the daily messages.
  • Not just exercise. While GoTrybe’s main focus is exercise, they offer incentives to improve your health in many other areas as well. Each day the member can earn points for viewing quick videos or reading quick tidbits about nutrition, motivation, and wellness. These generally offer tips and advice on how to stick with your exercise plans, how to pack the most nutrition in your meals, and how to set and stick with goals to improve your health. They use the points to dress their avatar and buy various items.
  • Lots of variety and choose your own. I really enjoyed the way they made the workouts available. They are not just premade videos that you pick from and follow along with only a few to choose from. You create your own workout by pulling from a pool of exercise videos most about 3-5 minutes in length. Each workout must have a warm up, three cardio sets, a strength one, and then a flexibility video. There are lots to choose from and my kids made many videos that we used on different days. No two were alike.
  • Kids exercise along, too. Each video is led by an adult, but kids play an important part in the group as well. You can even be in a video if you get in touch with them and are willing to drive to their studios in Tennessee. ;)
  • Geared to a variety of ages. You choose your age group when signing in and the videos that you have will vary based on your age at sign in. They have targeted them, and we enjoyed the older group although it was definitely challenging for my little ones that were following along with us. They all still got a great bit of exercise.

Some considerations . . .

  • Modesty. My only real beef with GoTrybe is their choice of clothing and body stance for the older girl avatar, in particular. This is often a problem for me when I consider products that focus on physical fitness. Presumably they want to give you a visual that is physically fit, but it often ends up somewhere between questionable and inappropriate in the modesty department. I would have preferred a more neutral stance and more feminine clothing, but obviously they can’t please everyone, so in this area I fell into the part of everyone that they didn’t please.
  • Workouts seemed to lack a cool down. We really enjoyed the workouts that we put together and each of my kids took a turn putting one on for us. However, we found that they needed a little more transition from the heart pumping cardio to the muscle building strength clips. We would just pause and walk around the room a few times while our heart rate relaxed a bit.
  • Nutrition information might not mesh with your slant. Each day the kids have an opportunity to hear a quick little nutrition tip and take a one question quiz on their comprehension. This was an easy way to earn points and my kids learned something in the process. However, there are a variety of approaches to healthy eating in our society today (whole foods, vegan, Nourishing Traditions, etc.) and again they cannot please everybody. For the most part they did a good job of remaining general (eat lots of fresh, whole foods), but if this is an area that you feel strongly about in your home you might want to use these as discussion starters rather than lessons for your kids to swallow.
  • Offers forum and chat features. Social media will always open the door to inappropriate conversation. Just be careful who your kids friend, or have them avoid that part of the program all together. They will not miss out on anything if they don’t get all the shoutouts like, “Make an avatar” ” r u a boy or girl?” etc. Really meaningful stuff right there. ;)

GoTrybe set out to create a motivational site for kids to get fit, to realize the importance of diet and exercise in our society that continues to struggle with obesity and weight related medical issues. I think they did a good job of making this kid-friendly and interactive. This web based program gets you out of your chair and improving your health from the first day you log in. Definitely worth the less than $20 to enable your kids to plan your PE for you.

For more TOS Crew reviews on this product, check out the TOS Crew blog.

Disclaimer: This product was provided to me free of charge through Go Trybe as part of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. I received no additional compensation and the opinions expressed here come from my personal experiences and sincere thoughts.



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Young Scientist Challenge

April 6th, 2011



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